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Replacing UTM with Airsoft / Milsim?

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  • #62721
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Ok, before you start on how great UTM is, I know. But I am getting hit with some hefty bills for upcoming classes, and once guys end up cancelling or nickle and diming me, I get flayed by the UTM invoices. So I am considering leaving UTM for military events where they bring their own, and seeking an alternative for FoF and CQB classes.

    UTM is the industry leader but it is expensive. I have no doubt that it has been behind the falling numbers on FoF events, and acts as a deterrent to signing up for classes. Can I get some feedback on that?

    I have started looking into milsim weapons. This would be an initial investment for me as I would have to get a stock of weapons. After that, costs would be low for repairs, replacements, CO2 and BBs. I could ask or allow people to bring their own airsoft rifles? Thoughts on that? Too much random? If they want their own, bring the same type as we use on the class? No snipers etc…..

    My concern is range. I need some data on how far these BBs go. I have seen plenty of footage of airsoft battles going on in the woods. The UTM has a maximum range of 50 meters and runs at 375 fps. It was a primary factor in me choosing the UTM option.

    I have seen this Tippman M4 online and it seems like a good option, using the CO2 in the magazine option. At around $400 per rifle plus $20 for additional magazines it may not be insurmountable to get a stock of them in.

    Tippman at Evike

    I know absolutely that UTM is the best, but the cost of it is proving prohibitive. Does anyone here know about airsoft and can help with the technical questions on the equipment? Thanks.

    I would like some comment and feedback here please.

    #62722
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    This type of thing?:

    #62723
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Affordable and simple?:

    #62724
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    11.10 above he says it engages out to 150′, same as UTM….

    #62725
    Profile photo of DarkriversDarkrivers
    Participant

    My thoughts are that it would be hard to replace the realism of UTM with airsoft. Malfunctions, recoil, noise, etc. How about requiring students to provide their own UTM ammo so that you are not on the hook for a large ammo bill. There is a supplier that will sell the UTM conversions and ammo to the general public at competitive pricing. My understanding is that the specs for the Civilian Target rounds and the restricted rounds are the same, only difference is packaging.
    Just my .02 and worth about that.

    If you're gonna fight, fight like you're the 3rd monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... And Brother, it's starting to rain! James from Texas

    #62726
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Becasue the cost still puts them off, and of course the airsoft is a compromise. Getting the right airsoft guns might be the answer. I’m looking to buy one of the Tippman M4s linked in the OP, to take a look at it.

    #62727
    Profile photo of DarkriversDarkrivers
    Participant

    People are cheap bastards. Its unfortunate how unmotivated people are to train. :wacko: I’ll be interested to hear about the Tippman rifle is.

    If you're gonna fight, fight like you're the 3rd monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... And Brother, it's starting to rain! James from Texas

    #62728
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    There has to be a compromise,. I am so slain by UTM bills I’m about to quit FoF and even MVT entirely.

    I still need to be able to run FoF and CQB, but UTM has become too expensive. Imagine if I told you a FoF weekend was only going to cost $500 inclusive of rifle rental , BBs and Co2? Knock off the $500 UTM fee for FoF, and the $400 additionall fee to CQBC?

    Bottom line is people are not stepping out to pay it.

    I can still do UTM, but I need to be approached for a private class where the bill is footed, rather than having to order the UTM 3 months ion advance and worrying about people booking or not, when they will pay for it, etc.

    #62729
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    I am not a expert by any means, in the past I have looked into for some of the reasons you bring up.

    Several years ago since I last looked into it, a cursory look suggests there have been some improvements in the technology.

    Is it enough for our purposes?

    It wasn’t at that time.

    One thing is the ability to mark target. In the past the paint BB’s were problematic in airsoft, I don’t know if they have improved. There are marker rounds substituting chalk instead of paint, but don’t know how well they work.

    The FPS of BB’s in some platforms can be way higher than is probably safe which could be a obstacle to a bring your own solution.

    Testing some equipment may be worthwhile.

    Magazine capacity is another consideration, is having several hundred round magazine a bad thing training wise? Only load to realistic capacity?

    I think you have to define exactly what is needed/wanted then see what is available at a giving price point.

    Electric? Gas?

    The gas guns seemed more realistic function wise to me, but I don’t have sufficient information at this time to really know.

    #62730
    Profile photo of Mike QMike Q
    Participant

    I think it has its pros and cons.

    Pros – cheaper to run classes
    More people probably show up
    Tactics is what you’re teaching not the equipment – focus on that

    Cons – weapon manipulation is slightly different I think
    Magazines hold 120 rounds – that can be cheated by sticking to 30 rounds in the mags
    Not just the rifles need to be bought but so do the mags – maybe get students to buy the mags
    Full auto looks like standard – maybe buy only semi autos

    I think it’s a decent compromise. Just a learning curve is needed. Maybe a few of us buy one and we run a half day at the VTC and figure it out first hand? I think I know a few who might volunteer…

    There never seems to be enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it twice.

    CRM Sept. 2014, CTT 1505, CTT July 2015, RC-Rifleman 1502, CP Nov. 2015, FoF March 2016, CCW May 2016, FoF Oct. 2016, FoF Nov. 2016, CLC April 2017, FoF Nov. 2017, Alumni weekend Aug. 2018, CQB Dec. 2018

    #62731
    Profile photo of Keeper aka "Sun Shine"Keeper
    Participant

    I agree with Mike Q it’s training not the equipment.
    “”My thoughts are that it would be hard to replace the realism of UTM with airsoft. Malfunctions, recoil, noise,”” about the same as Air-soft.

    “”People are cheap bastards. Its unfortunate how unmotivated people are to train.”” not true we have bills and other to pay for such as food and place to live.

    Max I think it would be a good ideal to look toward air-soft, it is about the training not the equipment

    Alumni living in N.E Fla. for now. Going to retire in Iowa on the farm some day soon.

    #62732
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    I’m gonna have to keep banging the drum that this is a compromise. UTM is not working due to cost.

    The Tippman M4 that I ordered works with a C02 canister in each 80 round mag. Of course these classes are not about weapon manipulation. At $20 per mag, I will have to get at least 3 mags per student.

    Restrict to semi only.

    6mm BBS do not mark. Mind you, neither does UTM most of the time. It’s an honesty game.

    Seems like airsoft may have range up to about 80 meters after my call to Tippman.

    If I have to order an armory of these, it may be something I have to work towards for next year. Either way, it is cheaper than UTM.

    We have to play the game of allowing or not allowing student owned rifles, of different types than the ones we purchase. I could ask for donations of rifles or magazines? Not sure how to approach that?

    #62733
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    This actually seems pretty impressive, and bolt sounds seem comparable or louder than the UTM cycling. I may be in the wrong game, there are w hole bunch of young guys in this video doing this, they just need leadership / instrution.

    #62734
    Profile photo of DarkriversDarkrivers
    Participant

    I agree with Mike Q it’s training not the equipment.
    “”My thoughts are that it would be hard to replace the realism of UTM with airsoft. Malfunctions, recoil, noise,”” about the same as Air-soft.

    “”People are cheap bastards. Its unfortunate how unmotivated people are to train.”” not true we have bills and other to pay for such as food and place to live.

    Max I think it would be a good ideal to look toward air-soft, it is about the training not the equipment

    Like I said. Just my .02 Max asked for opinions and I gave mine. There are always excuses why people wont sacrifice. If the training is that important than you make it happen.

    If you're gonna fight, fight like you're the 3rd monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... And Brother, it's starting to rain! James from Texas

    #62735
    Profile photo of Keeper aka "Sun Shine"Keeper
    Participant

    yep, we all got excuses

    Alumni living in N.E Fla. for now. Going to retire in Iowa on the farm some day soon.

    #62736
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    6mm BBS do not mark.

    I was referring to specialty versions of the 6mmm BB’s that use paint or chalk. Awhile back they weren’t a good option in many airsoft platforms. They would break inside causing fuction issues.

    I mentioned this to see if anyone knows if these issues have been solved. Not as a requirement. ;-)

    Many airsoft platforms are as realistic as UTM in sound and performance, some even have standard capacity magazines. Though as noted that isn’t a deal breaker.

    Having the option to have a private class using UTM where your not guesstimating whether you’ll be stuck with costs seems reasonable to me.

    Several companies market what KWA refers to as “Professional Training Rifles” to even LEA users.

    Whether or not such is needed would depend on your testing.

    The most experience I have with airsoft is gas blowback pistols, in my case a Beretta M9 replica. Fit, feel, and operation was good enough to be what I considered a good training product.

    The early rifles weren’t quite there, but a lot changes with technology. Since bringing this up there seems to be better performing options now.

    I may be in the wrong game

    Florida’s Camp Blanding Joint Training Center MOUT site has been leased by both airsoft and paintball events.

    Camp Blanding has a MOUT site (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) that is a brief 30 minute ride from our MCTFT campus.

    This facility consists of 32 buildings with multiple floor plans including office-type buildings, school, garage, hospital, bank, and apartment styled buildings. While MOUT training is prohibited for civilian law enforcement, this facility is excellent for large scenarios and offers unique opportunities for training in urban environments.

    The MOUT site also offers surrounding woodlands, roads, terrain, rooftops, a bell tower, a bridge and a landing zone for rotary-winged aircraft.

    #62737
    Profile photo of DarkriversDarkrivers
    Participant

    That’s awesome. FOF would be sweet there. I bet it’s expensive to rent though.

    If you're gonna fight, fight like you're the 3rd monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... And Brother, it's starting to rain! James from Texas

    #62770
    Profile photo of Keeper aka "Sun Shine"Keeper
    Participant

    Joe
    Yes that is Camp Blanding was use ONCE for airsoft /paint ball. I have contact them and found it was mistake to allow them to use it. It is only open to active duty military, law enforcement and DOD personnel. We tried to get it for day to train on for our group the Swamps Dogs but we were unable to due no one was meet the requirement other then myself at the time. It great place just wish it was open.

    Alumni living in N.E Fla. for now. Going to retire in Iowa on the farm some day soon.

    #62785
    Profile photo of Joe (G.W.N.S.)Joe (G.W.N.S.)
    Moderator

    Max another consideration with airsoft is the ambient temperature, some of the gas guns performance is degraded in colder weather.

    I do not know exact temps, but is something to research during the evaluations.

    Even the batteries are effected if cold enough, not sure what options are out there, but lithium batteries handle cold better as I am sure you know.

    Not deal breakers again, but something to know.

    #62787
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Who is coming to a FoF Class run with reliable airsoft rifles?

    Who is coming to a CLC run similarly?

    Given you pay $450 plus $500 (UTM) for a UTM FoF weekend = $950.

    Given that you pay $950 plus $1000 (UTM) for a CLC week = $1,950.

    What if a FoF weekend was run with airsoft and cost only $500?

    What if CLC cost maybe $1,200 total?

    Given that these are tactical training classes using airsoft, and not airsoft events, who else could you get off the fence to attend?

    #62788
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Considering keeping UTM for the CQBC simply because we use less and the cost is $400, and people can easily understand that CQBC is a training class, rather than confusing FoF with an airsoft field event.

    #62790
    Profile photo of JustARandomGuyJustARandomGuy
    Participant

    Per the other thread, JohnnyMac’s guy knows his shit.
    I sort of went down the Airsoft path a few years back looking for a cheaper training alternative during the The Great Ammo Rush post 2013.
    After much research of my own, everything he said is what I also found out to be true (except the Tippmann guns may not have been on market back then- there was some Crye-linked brand that was the rage then).

    I see you are considering both Gas and Electric guns. Not sure what conclusion you’ve come to yet, but here’s some things to consider before investing heavily-

    Leaking gas aside (probably an o-ring or valve, can often be cheap to fix), IMHO if you are looking to get airsoft on-line for your applicable classes, or to allow attendees to bring, my vote is with gas blow-back (GBB) all the way.
    The internals are considerably simpler, and [many] mags usually only hold 30 or so rounds like a real rifle. Granted, the user will need a special device to load them, but these devices are cheap.
    Downsides are Green Gas can perform less well in winter, and GBB mags can be a bit expensive.

    The thing a lot of folks overlook is the internal complexity of the Electric (AEG) guns, and the fact that the user MUST do an initial “preventative maintenance” on them BEFORE putting them into heavy use (not that GBB guns don’t need this, but like I said- simpler internals).
    This involves opening the gun up to get at the guts,taking it all apart and “shimming” the gears (because it’s Chinese shit and nothing is done *quite* right from the factory), then putting it all back together and greasing everything.

    I don’t say this to panic you out of using/allowing AEGs, just so that you are aware- if you intend to have MVT purchase, say, 10 rifles for people who don’t own an airsoft gun to use at a class, YOU (or somebody at MVT) are going to have to do PM on all of them before they see their first class. Or you’re going to shortly have a bunch of broken guns.

    And then there are the battery and drive motor issues with AEGs that I won’t even bother getting into here for the sake of length and sanity.
    Why do I say this? Because I owned a G&P AEG…. ;-)

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    "Time come Kimosabe, when good men must wear masks."
    ~Tanto

    #62792
    Profile photo of JustARandomGuyJustARandomGuy
    Participant

    On the issue of effective range you mentioned-
    I wouldn’t believe *quite* everything the sales rep is telling you…
    There are three things that affect ANY airsoft gun’s range- hop-up settings, bb weight, and wind.

    >Wind is self explanatory-just extra-magnified because BBs are light.

    >BB weight- I’m sure in your research you’ve already discovered that proper airsoft guns don’t work with those crap .17gr Walmart knockoff bbs. From a reputable brand, you’re looking at .20-24gr as a good weight. Of course a heavier weight is more wind resistant.

    *However* you’re going to need a chronograph to test this before class use- many airsoft guns straight out of the box tend to shoot to the upper end of an acceptable velocity with lighter bbs. If using heavier BBs with a gun that is running “hot” there is potential risk of injury, even with protective equipment (at a playing field, some will disallow the gun completely, some may allow it, but they’ll yellow-tape you and won’t let you shoot anyone at close ranges. You can crack/damage even proper military-grade eyepro, and I have seen people get BBs embedded in their skin from people shooting hot at close range).

    Sometimes the velocity will naturally drop to levels allowing the safe use of heavier BBs once the gun “settles in” after a few hundred rounds, but if not, if you want to drop the velocity to allow heavier rounds, you’re going to have to replace some internal springs.

    >Finally, the internal hop-up adjustments- yes, the user kind of has to “zero” their airsoft gun. Usually the hop-up adjuster can be accessed from outside the gun, so this isn’t to difficult, but if someone’s bb trajectory is dropping or rising sharply, it’s because of a poorly set hop-up. This is another PM thing that would have to be done before a class….

    The downside is, due to the extremely high quality of all airsoft guns (sarc) sometimes the hop won’t stay set under extended firing (even in semi only), or if the gun is dropped, bumped, jiggled in the storage bag to much as you drove to the event… *sigh*
    So it’s entirely possible for the user to experience a sudden and wild change in “zero” mid-shootout. On my own gun, I had to make a shim with some foil to keep my hop-up adjustment knob locked in place.

    Anyway- all that being said, with proper BBs and a well-set hop-up, you’re looking at 50yds. as an effective range where you can reliably expect minute-of-man hits with aimed fire. So pretty much UTM equal.
    With a good tail-wind, perhaps a bit more, a head-wind, less.
    “Beaten zone” fire, sure, you can expect like 70-80 yards. But “accuracy” (as it can be expected from an airsoft gun) gets real dicey beyond 50.
    Unless you buy lots of upgrades, which would be a waste because it’s still a crap shoot because of the wind, and un-needed at close range.

    Hope this all helps some.

    "Time come Kimosabe, when good men must wear masks."
    ~Tanto

    #62793
    Profile photo of JustARandomGuyJustARandomGuy
    Participant

    Cons – weapon manipulation is slightly different I think
    Magazines hold 120 rounds – that can be cheated by sticking to 30 rounds in the mags
    Not just the rifles need to be bought but so do the mags – maybe get students to buy the mags
    Full auto looks like standard – maybe buy only semi autos

    Yes and no-
    Weapon manip is going to depend on how much effort the manufacturer has put into making it realistic (which is also going to factor into price).
    Loading/ unloading is always going to be the same, minus having to send the bolt forward. IMHO, given the intended class use at MVT to train “tactics”, less “how to use your gun” it will not matter.
    If you want to maintain mental immersion just run the “real” motions anyway. But I never had a problem figuring out how to use my real rifle after using the airsoft gun.

    Full auto- as far as I know, all airsoft guns mimicking an AR have all 3 modes. If you’re a civi and used to flicking the switch to “one-bang” it’s not an issue- you just naturally do the actions you’re used to.
    However- another issue with airsoft guns, due to their excessive attention to quality, is that sometime the selector switch can be a bit loose, and can be inadvertently switched to “auto”. Or more annoying, it can move just slightly enough to put the gun between modes which can cause some hiccups…
    On my gun, I had to increase the depth of the hole the selector detent fit in on the receiver of the gun, in order to stop this annoyance.

    "Time come Kimosabe, when good men must wear masks."
    ~Tanto

    #62797
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    JARG: that’s some pretty good intel. And surprising, because I was veering towards the KWA AEG versions, based on the system being ‘simpler’ and no gas involved – see other comments about gas leaks etc.?

    I am looking at the KWA line of guns, and I was looking hard at the KWA RM4 SR10.

    But you say the GBB are better?

    #62807
    Profile photo of TCTC
    Participant

    Some brands are better than others, and current models may be better than old ones. KWA released the VM4 2.5 and RM4 3 in Spring 2017 with various reliability upgrades.

    How these compare to the other AEGs mentioned in this thread, can’t say, but if they’re now good enough then that would be a real boon versus GBB because of cheaper mags, temperature stability, and adjustable FPS on the VM4 models.

    With higher quality GBB manufacturers like GHK, the mags alone are $45-$65 each, so up to $250 for 4 mags is crazy. KWA AEG mags are $16 each and have a 30/120 round switch.

    UTM is cool but personally I don’t see airsoft taking away too much from the experience. UTM’s already hobbled in the sense of no bang or muzzle rise. As long as it reaches 50 yards, stings when you get shot, and mags run out when they’re supposed to, then fine by me. Just a question of long term reliability and cost then.

    Maybe have some rifles for rent, and people can buy/bring their own? The cost for a personal airsoft rifle would be equal/cheaper than buying UTM anyhow. Or how about mixed, where it’s airsoft but people who prefer to run their real rifles can buy/bring their own UTM ammo and you just provide the bolts.

    SE Florida ☆ CQBC 2017 ☆ CTT/DA 2017 ☆ CLC 2018

    #62808
    Profile photo of Mike QMike Q
    Participant

    I’ve never shot airsoft before, but if what I understand is correct, then the range for airsoft is greater than UTM. If that’s true then that’s a benefit so guys don’t get training scars when it comes to a much shorter distance than live rounds.

    There never seems to be enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it twice.

    CRM Sept. 2014, CTT 1505, CTT July 2015, RC-Rifleman 1502, CP Nov. 2015, FoF March 2016, CCW May 2016, FoF Oct. 2016, FoF Nov. 2016, CLC April 2017, FoF Nov. 2017, Alumni weekend Aug. 2018, CQB Dec. 2018

    #62809
    Profile photo of RobertRobert
    Participant

    Max- KWA and similar manufacturers are usually at SHOT Show.

    www.jrhenterprises.com
    RMP, TC3, NODF, CRCD 6/14, CP 9/14. NODF, Land Nav, 6/15. Rifleman Challenge 9/15- Vanguard. FOFtactics 3/16, 10/16, 11/16, 6/17,11/17 CTT, 6/15, 11/16, , LRMC-1 9/17 GA Mobile CTT and DA 10/16, GA mobile DCH 3/18, HEAT1 3/18 Alum weekend 8/18, Opfor CLC 10/18, DA 11/18 CQBC 12/18

    #62811
    Profile photo of Max VelocityMax
    Keymaster

    Here is an idea. This may be an idea for a theme for one class, or in general, and it may be a theme to get people to UTM classes, or it may work equally well for airsoft.

    Rather than doing what we do by splitting the attendees into two teams, with the exception of Sunday morning where we run the assault cycle exercise against a smaller OPFOR, how about this:

    Theme: Hunter-Killer: Team Coyote

    What we do is get perhaps 6 of our more frequent, better skilled, fitter alumni (probably Cabin Club members). We form them into an OPFOR and make them the bad guys. Everyone else forms team good guy, and we run missions against the OPFOR. OPFOR is not static like we do in CLC, but gets to act as their own thinking team, within whatever mission parameters we decide.

    So we will adapt from the standard ‘capture the flag’ into more evolved but still short term missions against OPFOR.

    One issue is that of dying. You die, that is you out of that game. That makes for faster games and thus more iterations. But we could consider the airsoft / gamer idea of ‘respawning’ by going back to a location rather than laying dead in the woods. We would have to adapt our casualty procedures to this – I noted that they do a similar thing to this in milsim, by having a rag with 2 knots or similar, where you can live if you are attended by a ‘medic’ within 5 minutes. Ideas.

    #62813
    Profile photo of JohnnyMacJohnnyMac
    Participant

    So we will adapt from the standard ‘capture the flag’ into more evolved but still short term missions against OPFOR

    I like it. I think adding context to any force on force training adds value for students.

    It would be awesome if during CLC:
    1) each mission was part of an overall operation, with a cooresponding narrative, based on mission success/failure
    2) Intel on OP4 that provides reason for the next mission OR provides valuable Intel for next mission (example: morning mission, found enemy map marked with hq location (megahouse), “oh look OP4 has a headquarters with comm equipment (raid next day)” / afternoon mission we find a hand drawn layout of megahouse that can feed into mission planning / raid on enemy hq recovers old laptop with Intel for mission(s) the following day(s)/ etc

    If talking about “respawning”, I was at a paintball event where you were given a chit, and when you died, you reported to a CCP and had your chit hole-punched.

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